Be it capital intensive in-house solutions powered by VMware and SAN technology or re-selling contracted collocated infrastructure, managed service providers have been offering some version of the “cloud” for the past decade or so.
Meanwhile, in a not-so-different industry, application developers have been leveraging “new” cloud technology which allows for self serving, on-demand infrastructure, requires no upfront equipment cost, allows you to pay for what you use, and with no buyer-lock in. This is known as the public cloud – powered by Openstack.
Many of the benefits of an Openstack public cloud that software development companies have been enjoying since the inception of the technology can also be enjoyed by a managed service provider. The disconnect? Many of the features of an Openstack public cloud that create these benefits are features that historically, have only mattered to a developer. The reality is, these features can be extremely valuable to an MSP as well.
OpenStack is an opensource project and a community of thousands of developers who contribute to the ongoing growth of the product. While opensource isn’t typically a concept discussed in the IT channel, the concept ensures rapid and ongoing innovation, which in turn allows a MSP to introduce new functionality and features to their own clients.
In a highly competitive industry like the IT channel, differentiating your service from your competitors can make the difference between being competitive and being the leader. Offering your client base innovative, leading edge products and services creates value for your clients and a competitive edge for your business.
APIs are what developers use to automate the process of connecting one application to another. Developers use APIs to link functionality of their products to existing products so that their end users don’t have to do it manually. Why would APIs matter to an MSP? Many of the manual, labour intensive processes MSPs would typically perform to manage their client’s infrastructure can be automated with an API driven public cloud.
More and more public cloud friendly applications are coming to market that integrate directly with public clouds through their APIs. Take Cloudberry Lab (www.cloudberrylab.com) as one example. Cloudberry makes products that synchronize and/or backup local systems to Openstack public clouds, among others. This functionality is driven by APIs.
API driven public clouds, and the abundance of available third party applications are enabling MSPs to expand their product and service portfolio, automate laborious processes and create more value for their clients.
Developers enjoy the benefit of the bill-by-the-minute pricing model of the public cloud for building products, test environments, and other workflows where instances aren’t required to be powered on 24/7.
Utility billing sets MSPs free from hardware staging and allows them to avoid using expensive, production equipment for proof of concept testing and client demonstrations. The economics of the utility model also prevent MSPs from incurring long term colocation or dedicated server contracts, allowing them to add infrastructure as they add clients, and scale back infrastructure when it isn’t needed.
Call to Action
Cloud technology has changed, and it has created an excellent opportunity for MSPs to revolutionize their service delivery model with modern technology, streamlined process, reduced service labour costs, and more attractive economics. Developers have been realizing these benefits for years, and the time is now for MSPs to do the same to gain a competitive edge in their markets.